Welcome to dinner!
If you are interested in…
- Enjoying dinner at a Chinese restaurant you haven’t tried before
- Meeting others interested in social issues in China
- Discussing the topic of the evening with your fellow diners and expert speakers
- Donating to a good cause
Then we would love for you to join us at a Beijing community dinner!
To get updates of dinners etc subscribe at http://tinyurl.com/beijingcommunitydinners
Read on for more details on who we are and what we do….
Beijing Community Dinners (BCD) was started in 2007 by a group of Beijing-based Chinese and international friends. We wanted to meet and enjoy the varieties of regional Chinese cuisine available in the capital, with friends old and new. We also wanted to use our fortnightly dinners to help those less well off, so we started a customary donation at each dinner. Soon we started inviting representatives from NGOs to inform us about issues important in the social and environmental sector in China. BCD has evolved into a great place to eat, meet and learn about important issues affecting the planet and its people. To be inclusive, we choose quality but affordable restaurants. If we’ve tickled your taste buds and/or conscience, then join us!
How does it work?
BCD organizes a dinner every 2 or 3 weeks (avoiding major holidays). A week or two before the dinner, everyone on the email list receives an email describing the topic and speaker(s) for the upcoming dinner. If you are interested, you send an email RSVP. This commits you to attending unless you cancel 24 hours in advance. You are welcome to invite friends to attend and to RSVP them as well, but please only RSVP for those people committed to attending.
A few days before the event, those who have emailed an RSVP will receive another email with the time and place of the dinner. Venues rotate among restaurants showcasing different types of Chinese cuisine. Dinners usually start between 6 and 7 pm.
Each dinner costs 100RMB per person. All “profit” above the price of the dinner (hopefully at least 40 RMB per person) gets donated to the NGO(s) represented by the speaker(s) at the event.
It is very important to only RVSP for dinners you actually attend as arrangements are made with the venue based on expected attendance and the dinner is preordered. If you have to cancel, please call/text as soon as possible.
At the dinner…
Participants gather for a short cocktail hour and then choose their seats at the table. Everyone introduces him/herself and the speaker gives a short introduction as well. (Note—if the speaker does not speak English, an interpreter will provide interpretation.) The set meal is served with dishes placed on the “lazy susan” in the middle, so that everyone can choose what and how much they would like to eat.
Toward the end of the dinner, the speaker(s) gives a 10-20 minute talk. The talk will highlight the important issues in the field, as well as the work of the NGO(s) to offset those challenges. Then participants have an opportunity to ask questions.
An envelope is passed during the Q&A period, and everyone attending should put at least 100RMB into the envelope. If participants want to donate more funds, they are welcome. After the cost of the dinner is deducted, all funds are immediately given to the speaker for use by the NGO (and in turn a receipt is given to BCD.) BCD is committed to transparency.
After the dinner, many participants hang around awhile to continue the conversation and build old and new friendships. BCD participants come from all walks of life and many countries, but they are all interested in supporting the nonprofit sector in China.
Please join our email list if you would like to attend!
Note: Everything said at a Beijing Community Dinner is considered “off-the-record.”
For prospective speakers:
We are interested in learning about important issues that affect people and the planet here in China. If you work in the social or environmental field, are a good public speaker, and can come to Beijing for a dinner, we would like to hear from you. We are particularly interested in speakers from NGOs, as we typically raise some funds for the NGO at the dinner. Be aware however, that the primary purpose of the dinner is raising awareness rather than funds. Also, please check our past events to get a sense of the topics that we have already covered, for we like to introduce BCD participants to a wide variety of issues and we will not repeat topics within two years time unless an urgent update is necessary.
If you are chosen to be a speaker, please prepare a 10-20 minute talk highlighting the important issues in your field, the work your NGO is doing to alleviate problems, and specific challenges that your NGO faces. As the gathering is informal, this talk should not be read. We would like to hear “behind the scenes” information, that may be too sensitive for the newspaper, for example. After your talk, be prepared to answer questions from the audience.
Also, we prefer that you attend one or two dinners before your talk so that you can get a sense of the dinners. (If you live outside of Beijing or cannot attend for other reasons, this is not obligatory.)
Note that if you do not feel comfortable speaking in English, we will arrange for a voluntary interpreter.